History of Linguistics

Linguistics has a long and storied history…that mostly consists of people in other fields doing language-y stuff. But then Chomsky appeared! Because Chomsky. See the slides or read the notes below for details. Also, check out these links:

Finding patterns in language: http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/

Recurrent neural nets are weirdly and awesomely effective: http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/

History of linguistics

Linguistics spawned from philosophy (like possibly everything). People thought about language and said wrong stuff and researched stuff. Then this guy named Chompsky came along and did a ton of stuff and was a jerk. But that’s going out of order.


·         Sanskrit grammar

·         Made 3959 rules of morphology, syntax, and semantics

·         Lexical lists and algorithms

·         Phonemes, morphemes, roots

Roger Bacon

·         Rumored to be a wizard with a magical bronze head

·         Believed that grammar was basically the same in all languages

·         Wrote about Aristotelian logic

·         Was a frier friar

Francis Bacon

·         Father of empiricism

·         Died while studying the preservation of meat

Gottlob Frege

·         Wrote “Sense and Reference” (very important semantic text)

·         Founded truth conditional semantics

·         Principle of compositionality (allowed people to study language more closely)

·         Created function-argument structure that represented words as functions

o   Ex. IsRed(chair) = The chair is red

·         Made first formal language

Bertrand Russel

·         Theory of descriptions

·         Broke set theory

Richard Montague

·         Tried to use math to describe

·         Created Montague grammar to try to translate natural language into formal language

Willard Van Oran Quine

·         Not that important

·         Theories on knowledge and linguistic meaning

·         Naturalism

Ferdinand de Saussure

·         Language is a social phenomenon

·         Langue vs. Parole

o   Langue – the language

o   Parole – your specific language

·         Founder of Structuralism

o   Put elements of language into boxes

·         His ideas were published after he died and contributed a lot

Leonard Bloomfield

·         Heavy science emphasis

o   Didn’t like semantics because you can’t know what people are thinking

·         Behaviorist

·         Structural linguistics

o   Tried to classify linguistics

Noam Chomsky

·         Really important

·         Kind of mean

·         Created the ideas:

o   Generative grammar

§  We can generate all the valid sentences in a language

o   Universal grammar

o   Poverty of stimulus

§  How can children learn language when they don’t have enough data?

o   Cognitive science

o   Deep structure

·         Principles and parameters

Yehoushua Bar-Hill

·         First full time machine translation researcher

·         Studied under frankael

The linguistic wars: Deep structure – relating to syntax or semantics?

Daniel Everett

·         Travelled to Brazil

·         Their language, Piraha, appeared to lack recursion

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